“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Burns Park in Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)


Geddesburg Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J.T. Lambrou, April 9, 2021
1. Geddesburg Marker
Inscription.  Founded in 1832 by John and Robert Geddes, the agricultural milling hamlet of Geddesburg illustrates the tradition of water-power economic opportunity which spurred westward expansion in 19th century America. Traversed by two Native American trails, the narrows of the Huron River between Chalmers and Fleming Creeks, was a strategic location. In 1824 Robert Fleming used creek water to power the first sawmill in Washtenaw County. The Geddes brothers harnessed the Huron River and constructed a sawmill in 1826. Paper pulp, lime plaster and grist mills followed as more entrepreneurs built dams. A grist mill and a cider mill, built in the late 1800s by William Parker, are still extant and are part of the Parker Mill Park complex owned by Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. The Michigan Central Railroad, built along the river's southern shore in 1839, enabled transport of mill and farm products.

Geddesburg, with its school, post office, train depot, mills, farms and vernacular Greek Revival houses, prospered along both sides of the Huron. John Geddes (1801-1889) was a State Representative, Township Supervisor and Justice
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of the Peace as well as a founding member of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. Geddesburg's location, 34 miles from Detroit, was also on the route of fugitive slaves following the Underground Railroad in the decades before and during the Civil War. John Geddes reportedly served as a "conductor” to freedom in Canada.

At the turn of the century, Ann Arbor Water and Gas Company developed a steam plant on the original Geddes grist mill site. Washtenaw Light and Power Company purchased Geddes riverfront property for a larger dam to power steam turbines. By 1913, Detroit Edison had acquired property for five hydroelectric plants along the Huron. They were known as Barton, Argo, Geddes, Superior and French Landing. To house the five plant supervisors, Detroit Edison bought three existing homes and built two more on DECO (Detroit Edison Company) Court just south of the river.
The Geddes dam was rebuilt in a major construction project, and this hydroelectric plant operated from 1918 to 1959. It is no longer extant. The noted landscape architecture firm of Frederick Law Olmsted was commissioned to design naturalistic landscapes for large tracts of the company's land. Farmland, formerly belonging to Robert Geddes, was developed for recreational use by Detroit Edison employees. Vivienne Farms was a spacious weekend vacation center for female employees.
View up the Huron River and Gallup Park Pathway. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J.T. Lambrou, April 9, 2021
2. View up the Huron River and Gallup Park Pathway.
The substation property was sold to the City of Ann Arbor.
Erected by Washtenaw County Historic Distric Commission. (Marker Number AN-52.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1832.
Location. 42° 16.224′ N, 83° 40.308′ W. Marker is in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in Washtenaw County. It is in Burns Park. Marker is on Old Dixboro Road, 0.1 miles south of South Dixboro Road, on the right when traveling south. Marker is at the Gallup Park Path Parking area near the Dixboro Dam. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ann Arbor MI 48105, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hoyt Garrod Post and Family History (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Parker Family & Mill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Native American Trails (approx. 0.3 miles away); Welcome to the Parker Family Mills! (approx. 0.3 miles away); Cider Mill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Grist Mill (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Gristmill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Log Cabin (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ann Arbor.
Also see . . .  A History of the Huron River in Ann Arbor. Excerpt:
In the summer of 1824, Robert Fleming built a sawmill on Sec. 25 (N. of Huron River at Gettysburg).

Today this is just east of the intersection of Dixboro and Geddes
View of marker with Dixboro Dam. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J.T. Lambrou, April 9, 2021
3. View of marker with Dixboro Dam.
(Submitted on April 17, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 12, 2023. It was originally submitted on April 17, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan. This page has been viewed 548 times since then and 424 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 17, 2021, by J.T. Lambrou of New Boston, Michigan. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 27, 2023